Friday, June 03, 2005

left handshake

today, i visited my spinal cord injured patient. he's 23, a chef and an athlete. he is completely paralyzed from a little above his waist down. one can't imagine just exactly how devastating it is for him.
today, he was able to pull himself up to sit on his own and go on a wheelchair.
today, i had to tell him he had to start learning how to catheterize himself in order to drain his bladder intermittently during the day. he squirms at the thought. not because it will be painful. because he can't feel anything down there anyway. but because it is unnatural. as would be how he will have to perform most other things and daily activities from now on...
he squirms. i encourage him anyway. told him it is what is best. told him it is so he will have less risk of infection. told him it is so he will be independent.
he still squirms. told him i was fighting for him as the other doctors think he wouldn't be able to do it. told him i was sure he would be able to. told him i know he was smart, strong, motivated, determined. told him i know that we could prove the others wrong.
he makes a face. he tells me he will take a few days to think about it. and i agreed. coming to terms with and acceptance of a disability could take a very very long time. i thought thinking about it was at least a positive sign. and i asked him "promise?"
he nods "yes" with a crooked smile. i told him to seal that promise with a handshake. i extend my left hand to shake his left because his right hand had the intravenous line. and he says that handshake doesn't mean anything because we're not shaking right hands.
i said i prefer a left handshake because it's closer to his heart. he smiles.
today, as i left him i was sure that he will prove the other doctors wrong by tomorrow.


Blogger mama_aly said...

No wonder you get so drained with your patients --- you give so much! More than your knowledge, your healing and compassion --- YOU GIVE WITH YOUR HEART.

Sunday, 05 June, 2005  

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